Sun, sand, and surf are the three words that come to mind when thinking about Rhode Island Surf Co. In downtown Westerly, Rhode Island Surf Co. radiates the notion of summer. From boards to bathing suits, this quaint little shop holds all your surfing accessories.
The shop is run by family man Walle Hutton. Walle is currently 33 years old and is originally from Honolulu, Hawaii. Like most military families, he spent his entire life bouncing from one location to the next, more specifically between New England and Hawaii.
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The idea behind Rhode Island Surf Co. was created to support Walle’s passions of being involved in the surf community and to have a way to support his family.
“I wanted to curate a space that focused on people within the surf community rather than just a bunch of big box brands,” explained Walle.
He wanted to showcase and collaborate with an array of artists, craftspeople and creatives that make up today’s surf culture. A place that brings together everyone, not just the surf community. Rhode Island Surf Co. was designed to create bonds, stimulate conversation and appreciate each other’s passions.
The goal of Rhode Island Surf Co. is to create a refreshing shopping experience. As you walk into the store you are embraced with artwork, home goods and succulents intermingled within apparel on their hand-crafted tables, racks, and shelving. The rear of the storehouses their selection of handcrafted custom surfboards and other surf crafts, along with premium wetsuits and all surf essentials. Conversations about surf, Rhode Island and travel resonate within this space creating more than just a place to shop, but a place to reconnect with people.
“I want people to look forward to coming back,” said Walle.
He decided to create the store when he, his wife, and first son moved back to Rhode Island from Maui, Hawaii in October 2018.
“We had no plan and no idea what ventures were possible moving back,” said Walle. “I looked into jumping back into corporate entities, state jobs, or even trade I had no experience in. After a few months on “the job search,” nothing seemed to feel right. Interviews seemed lackluster and nothing came close to challenge my drive or spark passion.”
Until, one day in December, Walle and his family were driving through downtown Westerly and noticed a for rent sign in the front window of The Brown Building. ”
We called that day and within a week or two we were signed up to move into the space in February,” said Walle.
When asked why he chose Westerly as the location for the store, he said: “I love downtown Westerly. It has a certain feel. From the restaurants available to Wilcox Park, the historic buildings, the community of people that work, live, and travel here, and the surf. It’s cool to see how Westerly is progressing.
From seeing it as a young teen going to the old Seven Ply, to my 20s venturing to my favorites such as the Malted Barley, The Knickerbocker Music Center and Perks & Corks and now in my 30s seeing new young business owners like me, such as Cam and Anastasia with Cahill & Co, Flipside, and all the other new small retailers. It’s quite a magical place to be as a young entrepreneur in a town going through this sort of renaissance.”
Walle is excited to grow and provide quality goods, apparel for the whole family, and the core essentials that are needed by our growing surf community.
“I wanted to be more than just a surf shop,” said Walle. “I am stoked to see that more than just our surf community have enjoyed the apparel and goods we are providing for our customers.”
Walle hopes to be an essential part of downtowns retailer’s years down the line. His focus is to grow organically, run community events and provide goods and apparel for everyone to enjoy.